Like many people in late middle age, I’ve been carrying around some extra poundage for quite a few years now. I’ve always been able to rationalize the problem away, thinking I’ll just do a bit more walking, or I’ll stop buying ice cream, or go to the Y more often, and that will take care of it. But year by year, like the proverbial frogs being boiled to death so slowly they never notice it, I’ve been building myself a belly.
When I stood on my bathroom scale yesterday, it spun around to 230. That means I’m carrying around about 40 extra pounds on my six-foot frame. This is serious. I’m at risk for diabetes and all sorts of other health problems if I don’t do something about this.
I’ve always thought of myself as an active guy. I work out at the Y three times a week, walk the dog about a mile twice a day, and often take the stairs instead of the elevator. But the rest of the time I’m sitting in my recording studio, taking frequent kitchen breaks to forage for whatever tasty morsel might be lurking around. And now it has caught up with me.
When I was in my twenties and early thirties, I could eat massive quantities of pizza, burgers and fries, or burritos, and never gain a pound. But by my mid-thirties, a switch flipped off somewhere in my body, and I started slowly gaining weight. Then, I spent a large portion of my life touring as a musician, eating McDonald’s for breakfast and lunch, high calorie catered food for dinner, and pizzas on the bus as we drove away, washed down with lots and lots of beer. I guess you could say it left a mark.
But now I’m home most of the time, and I do all the cooking at our house. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables, whole grains, and low fat foods, but I’m still gaining weight, because for some reason I’m still cooking large pots of food like I did when we had two ravenous teenagers in the house. I’ve got to stop doing that. I should probably replace all our big plates with small plates, to try to fool my brain into thinking I’ve got a full plate of food.
Every person alive on Earth today is here because their ancestors found fats and sugars tasty, ate more of them than their skinnier friends, and so lived through times of scarcity. Those strong impulses to eat while the eatin’s good are still there, encoded in our genes. My frontal lobes know I don’t need a second helping of mashed potatoes, but the primitive survival parts of my lower brain keep screaming, “Eat it! There’s probably going to be a famine tomorrow!” So I do.
I’m going to try to fix this. Because no one wants a rock guitar player who’s fat. And also, I would like to stick around for a while instead of having a massive coronary in my fifties. So I’m going to start eating smaller portions, stop drinking so much beer, keep fewer cookie-type items within easy reach, and convince my old dog and my creaky knees we need to walk more.
And the next time someone comes on the band bus with a stack of meat-lovers pizzas, I’m just going to say, “No thanks! I’ve got these delicious celery sticks here!”